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Flyers vs. Rangers: The Game 4 matchup battle

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Some really strong performances head-to-head -- especially against the Rangers' top line -- are a big part of why the Flyers head to New York tied at two games apiece.

Spoiler alert: This did not turn into a shot attempt for the Rangers.
Spoiler alert: This did not turn into a shot attempt for the Rangers.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

As you hopefully know, after every game in this series we've looked at the head-to-head matchups between the Flyers and the Rangers based on ice time and shot differential for each team's four forward lines and three defense pairings. You can see the posts for games onetwo, and three at those links. Now let's talk about game four.

Flyers forwards vs. Rangers forwards

F1 / Stepan (13.3) F2 / Richards (13.4) F3 / Brassard (12.6) F4 / D. Moore (8.9)
F1 / Giroux (16.4) 3.8 (+7/-5) 3.5 (+4/-3) 6.8 (+3/-7) 2.1 (+3/-0)
F2 / B. Schenn (11.9) 1.6 (+2/-0) 6.5 (+8/-10) 1.4 (+1/-4) 3.9 (+3/-4)
F3 / Couturier (14) 7.8 (+13/-3) 1.8 (+2/-6) 3.5 (+6/-2) 1.1 (+2/-0)
F4 / Hall (6.3) 1.5 (+2/-0) 1.3 (+3/-2) 0.9 (+0/-1) 2.6 (+2/-0)

How to read this chart: Claude Giroux played 16.4 minutes at 5-on-5. Derek Stepan played 13.3 minutes at 5-on-5. Giroux and Stepan were on the ice together for 3.8 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time, during which the Flyers had seven shot attempts and the Rangers had five. Shot numbers are not adjusted for zone starts. Ice time numbers from Extra Skater.

Flyers forwards vs. Rangers defensemen

D1 / McDonagh (17.9) D2 / Staal (14.4) D3 / J. Moore (14.1)
F1 / Giroux (16.4) 7.3 (+8/-7) 7 (+3/-8) 2.4 (+2/-0)
F2 / B. Schenn (11.9) 3.7 (+7/-10) 4.2 (+4/-6) 3.8 (+2/-2)
F3 / Couturier (14) 4.5 (+4/-5) 2.4 (+3/-2) 6.9 (+11/-4)
F4 / Hall (6.3) 3.1 (+3/-2) 1.2 (+1/-0) 1.9 (+3/-1)

Flyers defensemen vs. Rangers forwards

F1 / Stepan (13.3) F2 / Richards (13.4) F3 / Brassard (12.6) F4 / D. Moore (8.9)
D1 / Coburn (18.7) 6.4 (+13/-0) 4.8 (+8/-5) 6 (+5/-7) 3 (+2/-0)
D2 / Streit (17.4) 5.7 (+10/-3) 5.4 (+3/-5) 2.4 (+1/-0) 5 (+5/-5)
D3 / L. Schenn (17.5) 3.6 (+4/-6) 6.1 (+5/-14) 4.5 (+2/-8) 3.3 (+5/-3)

Full head-to-head shot attempt chart here.

Some notes:

* First of all, as you could likely infer, the defensive pairings got thrown off a bit following Nicklas Grossmann's injury early in the second period. The remaining five defensemen all picked up a couple more minutes as a result. So we'll try not to look a ton into their ice time figures for the evening in terms of the coaches' decisions.

* Within each team's top three forward lines, it sure looks like there were some matchups that were developing, and probably the ones that Berube wanted to get -- Sean Couturier's line against Derek Stepan's, Claude Giroux's against Derick Brassard's, and Brayden Schenn's against Brad Richards'. Each of those respective combinations spent around half of their total ice time (if not more) squaring off with one another.

* The fourth lines for both teams were a little more scattered, but it's nice to see -- for the second straight game -- that the Rangers' fourth line is no longer destroying the Flyers while on the ice, and in fact the Flyers' fourth line has turned the tide in their favor. Second straight strong game for the Raffl/Hall/Rinaldo combination in this department.

* Look at what Sean Couturier (and his line) did while Stepan (and his line) was on the ice. Now, look at what Braydon Coburn (and Kimmo Timonen) did while Stepan (and his line) was on the ice. Absolutely incredible game from those two units to completely annihilate a Rangers top line that had largely been outstanding through the first three games. Particularly, a lot of credit to Coburn and Timonen for not being on the ice for a single 5-on-5 shot attempt against any of the Rangers' top three forwards, and doing that while logging more minutes than they have been otherwise. (And an honorable mention to Mark Streit, who also did well against that top line when occasionally filling in for one of those other two.)

* All in all, it's pretty clear that the Flyers made a conscious effort to try and get at least some matchups (and were fairly successful in doing so) during their two home games. Especially after seeing how his top line got shut out last night, you have to imagine Alain Vigneault will be doing everything in his power to prevent that from happening -- in particular, you know he'll want to get Nash/Stepan/St. Louis away from Couturier's line. He was successful at that in the first two games in New York -- let's see if he will be on Sunday, because it could be a matchup that swings the game.